Demo models

Demo models

Originally uploaded by anselm23

Via Flickr:
Why make two (three, actually, but the third one didn’t fit in the photo well) covers for books exactly the same, even if the book they’re wrapped around isn’t actually the same book?

Demo models.

Later this week, the fourth grade will be working on creating covers for a book that they’re reading — front cover, back blurb, flyleaves, and spines. Not your typical paper-bag covers that graced my books when I was in high school and middle school, but actual book covers, with carefully chosen photos and selected typography and more. Color and artwork and technique.

Can they do it? I have no idea. Neither do their teachers. Folding and measuring and cutting of paper, digital editing of images and actual work with sheets of paper. Printing rough-cut images and then final versions. Gluing and perhaps stapling. The manufacture of a mock-up cover.

Each team needs to produce three copies of their design, to fit their books, so that they look the same. Which means teamwork, agreement on design, and working together to choose font and illustration and photographs and overall color scheme.

But in order to do this, the fourth grade teachers and I need to be on the same page about what the different parts of the book jacket are called. And what goes on each part. And that means giving each of us a clear example of the different parts.

Once the kids start choosing fonts and font-sizes and illustrations, a whole lot of things will go pear-shaped very quickly. The book cover has to be a standard size. This is about learning and experimenting with a suite of digital editing tools and making complicated decisions. And changing one thing will change a lot of other things, very quickly.

So it’s important for us as teachers to be on the same page. And that means, even though we have three differently-sized books, we have book jackets set up with the same color code, and the same language throughout, so that we can assist kids in thinking through their choices.

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One comment

  1. One way Glynis and I have approached this challenge for 5th grade is by presenting kids with a “series” of books and asking them to design a unified trade dress. We used classic Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys, along with the white spine editions of Susan Cooper’s Dark Is Rising series, as examples of what a “series” dress might look like. We also showed a collection of Marvel GN’s, where the series look is pretty consistent on the spine, but very individual on the front.

    I love the prototypes! It helps avoid one of my main issues, which is refering to an element by the specific characteristic in my example. We also ran into real PS/AI problems quickly, because the students flat out didn’t have enough experience working with the abstractions of layers, groups and objects. I thought I had a carefully constructed template. I was wrong.

    Working on a paper prototype is a great first step.

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